1113 Items

Noor 1 and 2 - Ouarzazate Solar Power Station

Richard Allaway via Wikimedia Commons

Analysis & Opinions - International Monetary Fund

North Africa's Hydrogen Mirage

| September 2023

Amid the global energy transition, investors are anxious to pour billions of dollars into many of these countries to turn the new fossil fuel finds into hydrogen. The element is the key feedstock for fuel cells, which use chemical reactions to generate electricity cleanly, with water as the main byproduct. Notwithstanding the considerable technological challenges ahead, demand for the gas in Europe and elsewhere is widely expected to surge as vehicles, factories, and other energy users seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

For Southern Rim nations, however, this tantalizing opportunity for economic development risks turning into just another Sahara mirage. That’s because the hype surrounding hydrogen may continue to distract the regions’ leaders from addressing the tough domestic social issues that are behind the migration crisis. If the technology does become viable, revenue from hydrogen exports to Europe could just perpetuate rent-seeking behavior by political and economic elites at the expense of their own citizens.

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Middle East Initiative Mosaic 2021-2022

June 01, 2023

The Middle East Initiative's annual Mosaic newsletter showcases the vibrancy and breadth of activities taken up by our faculty, fellows, students, and staff throughout the academic year. The 2021-2022 edition celebrates the 20th anniversary and enduring impact of the Kuwait Program at Harvard University. Additional highlights include features on our Faculty Chair’s field-based course on development in the Gulf, Senior Fellow-led learning opportunities, our public events series, and the research and policy analysis of our faculty, fellows, and students.

Analysis & Opinions - Aljazeera

Not your grandfather’s cold war

| May 23, 2023

As tensions between China and the United States are escalating, there is much talk among scholars and commentators about a new Cold War between the two powers. US officials have also indicated that they are thinking of relations with Beijing in those terms. Yet, the situation in global politics and economy today is quite different from the post-World War II era, when the Soviet Union and the US faced off.

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Journal Article

Internalization of Externalities in International Trade

| May 16, 2023

Using disaggregated customs data about exporters from nine countries, I demonstrate that informational externalities are determinants of entry, survival, and growth of exporters at the product–destination market level. I show that exporters who optimize entry decisions and internalize informational externalities survive longer and grow faster. Then, I conceptualize why exporters enter certain international markets and why not all exporters from the same origin survive and grow in these markets. I incorporate the interaction between the performance and number of peers in a given market to identify a potential learning externality that exporters may be exposed to. Also, I highlight that, even without the formation of formal networks, the observation of the actions of peers in export markets can deliver implications for export flows: exporters may not need to start small in new markets if the actions of peers in those markets reveal enough information. By helping to explain how export relationships survive and grow, I complement the literature on the determinants of export diversification and signal to export promotion agencies the importance of internalization of informational externalities by exporters.

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Journal Article - United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs

Examining Modalities for Nuclear Disarmament in the Middle East WMD-Free Zone Treaty

| May 04, 2023

This paper addresses the complexities associated with nuclear disarmament in the absence of an internationally accepted multilateral framework. The paper sketches out and examines the implications of two primary pathways to achieve nuclear disarmament in a future WMDFZ treaty, and the inclusion of specific disarmament provisions in the zone treaty. The paper also discusses the implications for each pathway.

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Journal Article

On the Economic Potential of Cannabis Cultivation in Lebanon

| May 03, 2023

The causes and drivers of Lebanon’s economic crisis are well known and documented, with most studies and reports focusing on Central Bank monetary policy and Ministry of Finance measures. Less is known about prospective, unconventional economic policies that Lebanon could adopt to alleviate the impact of the crisis. One such policy would entail focusing on economic sectors in which Lebanon has a comparative advantage. Lebanon can capitalize on its comparative advantage by identifying foreign markets with untapped potential, an approach which presents the best opportunity to boost exports without additional public spending. Controversially, one such export product is cannabis. In 2020, McKinsey & Company produced an economic policy report titled “Lebanon Economic Vision”, in which they estimate that cannabis cultivation in Lebanon has the potential to generate 4 billion US dollars (USD) in revenues annually. Below, we focus on four of the report’s findings and recommendations, as well as potential discrepancies in those findings and recommendations, which deserve keen attention and scrutiny.

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| Apr. 03, 2023

We study how large shocks impact individuals’ skilling decisions using data from the largest online learning platform in Saudi Arabia. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a massive increase in online skilling, and demand shifted towards courses that offered skills, such as telework, likely to be immediately valuable during the pandemic. Consistent with a model where individuals trade off reskilling costs with their expectations of future labor market conditions and their duration of work, we find that shifts into telework courses were largest for older workers. In contrast, younger workers increased enrollments in courses related to new skills, such as general, occupation-specific, and computer-related skills. Using national administrative employment data, we provide suggestive evidence that these investments in skills in early 2020 helped users maintain employment over the course of the pandemic.